“What’s the best workout routine?” A lot of guys want a very simple, black and white answer to this question. Well, sorry, but it doesn’t exist. The best workout routine for you will depend on a number of factors:
The fact of the matter is that deciding what the best workout routine is for you is an extremely important aspect of your lifestyle.
I’ve done routines that only require 45 minutes a month (that’s right, like 12 minutes a week) and I’ve done routines that require 3 hours 6 days a week. Every routine has its pros and cons.
I’m not going to sugar coat it for you and tell you some bullshit about how there’s this one routine that fits everyone! It’s the best workout routine out there, and you just have to pay $39.99 to access it! Fuck off. I’m here to tell you the truth based off of my experience. So here it is.
Priorities are not the same as goals. A goal would be something like “I want to put on 15 pounds of lean muscle in 6 months.” A priority would be “I value gaining mass over gaining strength.”
Do you see the difference? You need to figure out your priorities before I can help you decide what the best workout routine is for you. Here’s a few common priorities to help get you started:
Generally speaking, these are the five main priorities. They will change depending on your life at the moment.
For instance, as I’m writing this article, my goal is to put on as much mass as humanly possible. Why? Because I’m preparing for a photo-shoot within the next month. Is it time consuming? Jesus Christ, yes—it’s like a part time job. But do I look good? Absolutely.
Once I’m done with the photo-shoot, I’ll downgrade to maybe the fourth priority: “I want overall health and functional strength.” Why? Because I still want to stay in shape and feel good, but instead of spending 3 hours a day in the gym 6 days a week, I’d rather be able to spend that time writing articles for you guys.
So for now, the best workout routine for me is different than what it will be in a month or two; that’s because the best workout routine changes depending on your priorities.
Once you figure out what your priority is, scroll down for the routine.
Okay, so you want the most return from the least amount of time. Whether you’re an exec, a wall-street broker, or a med-school student half dead from sleep deprivation, I’ve got you covered.
The best workout routine for this priority is from a book called Body by Science by Dr. Doug McGuff.
This is the workout routine that only takes 12 minutes a week (well, maybe more if you include driving time), so it’s perfect for extremely busy individuals. “Only 12 minutes a week? Are you kidding me, Jon?” I can hear you say. Nope, I’m not kidding, my friends.
I’m not going to bullshit you and say that you’ll look like Arnold Schwarzenegger (that’s priority #3), because you won’t; but you’ll definitely become strong and stay toned in general.
The workout is based around the “Big 5” exercises: row, deadlift, military press, bench press, and squat. The idea is that you only do one set for each exercise, but you do the reps extremely slowly. Like each rep should take 5-10 seconds going up and another 5-10 seconds going down.
You will feel fucking drained after each workout.
Even though 12 minutes doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s pretty much nonstop lifting. This isn’t some “do 12 reps and then rest for 3 minutes” bullshit. It’s nonstop lifting. I could try to explain all of the science that went into this book, but I’m not a doctor—if you want the research that went into this workout routine you’ll have to check out the book.
If you want to attain a lean, toned looking physique, I recommend pairing this with the Bulletproof Diet. I’ve already written an article on why the Bulletproof Diet is the best diet for losing weight, so if you pair it with this routine, you’ll end up looking lean and toned (but not that physically impressive).
The diet will get you really lean and the workout routine will get you toned, all while saving you time. But again—don’t expect to look like superman. You’ll look like a lean swimmer, most likely.
What if you want to build strength, and you couldn’t give two shits how long it takes? Well, I’ve got a routine for that too. The thing is, it’ll depend on how experienced you are with working out, however. If you’re a beginner, go with Starting Strength; this is by far the best workout routine for beginners.
Once your lifts start stalling on starting strength, and you can’t seem to put any more weight on the bar no matter how much you eat, switch over to the Texas Method. This is basically a more advanced version of Starting Strength.
Personally I’ve never done this, because I fucked up my hip doing Brazilian Jiu Jitsu and had to stop squatting heavy, but any power lifter who knows anything knows that this is the natural routine to follow when you’re done with starting strength.
The Texas Method is based around alternating the weight that you do, based around your 5 rep max:
The reason why this method works so well is because it allows you to adapt. It’s the best workout routine for building strength as an intermediate lifter.
On Monday, you still lift heavy as fuck, but it’s not pushing yourself as far as you can go like you do with starting strength. Then, you still workout hard on Wednesday, but not too hard because you’re preparing for Friday. Then, on Friday, you give it everything you’ve got with lower volume, but higher weight. This will allow your body to recover, and your strength will shoot through the roof.
After 4-6 months of this, your lifts will start to stall again. Once this happens, I recommend moving onto Jim Wendler’s 5/3/1 Routine. Again, I have never tried it myself, but guys seem to be getting great results from it, and most guys into power lifting say that it’s the best workout routine to do after you do the Texas Method for a while.
Hopefully, if my hip can be healed, I’ll get back into powerlifting. But until then I can’t squat more than 285 without getting chronic pain.
Either way, if you’ve never been seriously injured from a sport or an accident, I’d say it’s safe to move onto this routine. I’m not going to spend a whole lot of time dissecting it here, because it’s pretty complicated, but if you want a more in depth look check out T-Nation’s post on it.
So, you want to look like the fucking hulk, eh? I can help you with that, too. Building mass is extremely time consuming, and it is literally a part time job when you factor in how you have to time your meals and gorge yourself on healthy foods. But, if this is your priority, you have the time.
Starting off, I recommend P.H.U.L., then P.H.A.T., then eventually work your way up to Arnold’s routine.
Note: if you aren’t on steroids, you’ll burn out from doing Arnold’s routine within like 2 months. It’s fucking grueling. P.H.U.L. isn’t too time consuming, but as you go onto P.H.A.T. and ultimately Arnold’s routine, they become progressively more and more time consuming.
P.H.U.L. is probably a 12 hour/week commitment (including food preparation and eating time.). P.H.A.T. is probably a 15 hour a week commitment. Arnold’s routine is like a fucking 25 hour a week commitment. You can choose what you want to do.
If you don’t have enough time, just stick with P.H.U.L. Or maybe stop at P.H.A.T. (which I recommend if you’re natural). Or maybe go onto Arnold’s routine and become Mr. Olympia. It’s up to you. P.H.U.L. stands for Power Hypertrophy Upper Lower. It’s based around a fairly simple concept: work out four days a week, two are for building power, two are for building mass.
This is important, because the best way to build mass isn’t just to do high reps (at first, at least). It’s to get strong while you’re doing high reps, so that you can do high reps with more weight. I would recommend doing P.H.U.L. for 3-4 months before you move onto P.H.A.T.
P.H.A.T. stands for Power Hypertrophy Adaptive Training, but it’s basically the same shit as P.H.U.L. with more of an emphasis on hypertrophy.
You’ll spend two days of the week building strength, and three building mass. Again, I could write a lengthy article on the workout itself, but Simply Shredded already wrote a very in depth post on it.
If you’re natural, this is pretty much as far as you can go.
Even P.H.A.T. will be pushing it if you’re a natural. You’ll have to take a deloading phase every 2 months or so, which is where you continue to workout, but only at 70% of your normal weight. This allows you to actively recover.
If you’re chemically enhanced, however, you can delve into Arnold’s Routine. His routine is actually so fucking long and intense, that there isn’t even one article to cover it all. When I was looking to step my game up and build a whole bunch of mass, I had to scour through several articles to put it all together:
It doesn’t end there, though. You do days 1-3, then repeat days 1-3, and then rest on Sunday. Like I said, it’s a lot. So basically, it’d look something like this:
You’ll literally be spending 2-3 hours in the gym 6 days a week, and you’ll have to plan all of your meals out and eat like a mammoth (gotta eat big to get big), but if that’s your goal, then more power to you.
If your goal is overall health and functional strength, I recommend a hybrid routine combined with the Bulletproof Diet. The hybrid routine can change entirely depending on if you want the functional strength for a specific sport, or just to stay in shape.
I’m going to assume that you just want to stay in shape, however. If you want a sport-specific routine, you’ll have to make one yourself, but here is an example routine for you to follow:
It’s pretty simple, it doesn’t take much time, and it’ll keep you in decent shape. It won’t make you look the best, but it’ll give you energy and health. Some guys like to wake up, get a blast of energy from doing calisthenics, take a cold shower, and get shit done. That’s just fine with me.
Another example routine for overall health and fitness might be something like this:
The point is that for overall health and functional strength, you need to incorporate a few elements: calisthenics, cardio, and weights.
With this in mind, you can basically make any routine that you want. Just make sure you combine all of the elements.
The fifth goal, which is personally my goal, is to build a body that is the most visually aesthetic; in other words, a body that girls get wet for. Yes, yes, some people will call this shallow. But do you know what? They’re just jealous.
The fact of the matter is that having a chiseled body, a nice V-Taper, and some abs makes it far easier to get attractive girls into you.
That being said, you don’t want to spend hours and hours at the gym—you want to get in and out, as fast as possible, while still getting the body of your dreams. This is what I designed Body of an Alpha to do.
Body of an Alpha is the most effective workout routine on the market, for several reasons:
In other words, Body of an Alpha is the quickest way to get the type of body that women go crazy for. Take my word for it.
I was sure to include two workouts, as well—the beginner’s version, and the advanced version, so that both beginners and advanced lifters alike can gain a phenomenal workout from the book. Am I biased? Well, yeah, because I wrote it.
But do I believe that it’s the absolute best fucking workout routine to get the body that women desire? Absolutely. Don’t take my word for it, though. Try the routine out and see for yourself.
You now have all of the tools that you need to start working out (if you don’t already). There is literally no excuse for you to stay out of shape. “But I don’t have enough time!” Did you not read the fucking article? Do Priority #1 or Priority #5.
“But I don’t know which routine to do!” Then fucking read the “Priorities” section and determine your priority.
“B-b-but I’m new to working out!” Then do either Starting Strength or Body of an Alpha (which covers nutrition and recovery, as well). “B-b-but I’m so confused!” Then fucking educate yourself. Click on the links, buy the books, and read the articles that I link to explaining how to do these exercises.
It’s really not that hard. You don’t have any excuses now. It’s on you to take ACTION, because if you don’t, then nothing will change.
If you guys have any questions, comments, or concerns, let me know. As always, I hope you enjoyed the article, and I’ll see you next time.
Jon Anthony is a dating coach, fitness expert, and self-improvement guru. He dropped out of college to start Masculine Development in 2015, and has since been self-employed, helping men across the world achieve their best lives. You can best reach him on social media, or via email for questions.